Champs and stars are back this weekend, but fights for Navarrete and Garcia are missing something

As the boxing world moves on from Tyson Fury’s incredible victory over Deontay Wilder, this weekend offers a number of solid fights which include the return of some of the sport’s bigger names.

Fight night features the second title defense for WBO featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete. His opponent is Joet Gonzalez (24-1, 14 KOS), who in 2018 took Shakur Stevenson the distance and in 2020 defeated former title contender Miguel Marriaga with a dominant performance.

Navarrete (34-1, 29 KOs) won a junior featherweight world title against Isaac Dogboe in 2018 and made five defenses before moving up to the 126-pound division. He won the then vacant featherweight title against Ruben Villa a year ago, and defended it with a 12th-round TKO victory over Christopher Diaz in April.

So, how big of a challenge is Gonzalez to a Navarrete, who hasn’t lost a fight in more than nine years?

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ESPN+, Friday, 8:25 p.m. ET: Emanuel Navarrete vs. Joet Gonzalez, 12 rounds, for Navarrete’s WBO featherweight title

ESPN+ Saturday, 8 p.m. ET: David Cuellar vs. Moises Fuentes, 10 rounds, junior bantamweights On Saturday, super middleweight prospect Diego Pacheco returns to the ring for his third fight of 2021 to face Lucas de Abreu, an unbeaten orthodox fighter from Brazil. Abreu has 11 KOs in 12 fights, but the focus is on the 20-year-old Pacheco against this pressure fighter.

Also on Saturday, former four-division champion Mikey Garcia will fight for the first time in almost 18 months, a 10-round welterweight battle against Sandro Martin.

Garcia (40-1, 30 KOs), has only fought twice since his March 2019 decision loss to Errol Spence Jr.. He also has a decision victory over Jessie Vargas in February 2020. Martin (38-2, 13 KOs), is making his first appearance in the United States after fighting most of his career in his native country of Spain.

Our panel of Timothy Bradley Jr., Mike Coppinger, Mike Rothstein and Ben Baby look at these fights and some other must-see bouts this weekend. What’s Emanuel Navarrete’s ceiling as a top fighter?

play 2:00 Navarrete knocks down Diaz multiple times in KO win over Diaz

Emanuel Navarrete shows off his prowess by knocking down Christopher Diaz multiple times en route to his 29th knockout win.

Coppinger: Navarrete is a talented fighter, a boxer who generates tremendous leverage on his punches with exceptional height for a 126-pounder at 5-foot-7.The 26-year-old throws shots from awkward angles and with bad intentions, too. Most of all, perhaps, Navarrete unloads with incredible volume even after moving up from 122 pounds. In his featherweight debut — a title fight — he threw nearly 700 punches. His first defense was a successful one, a knockout of Christopher Diaz. He threw 744 punches in that bout.He is also still improving. There remains some promising challenges for Navarrete at 126 pounds, namely Gary Russell Jr., but the real tests will come at 130 pounds, and that’s where […]

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